Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110425

»Diana West: Michigan Court Establishes “Blasphemy”-Free, No-Go-Zone for Islam
»Improvised Explosive Device Discovered on an Overpass in Brownsville
Europe and the EU
»Elections: EU: BBC Training to Egypt and Tunisia Journalists
»Germany: Jahn Determined to Remove Ex-Stasi Workers From Files Authority
»Italy: Turkish Kebab Restaurants Against Italian Regulations
»Sweden: Police Hunt Suspects in “Hanging Boy” Case.
»UK: Lobbyists Who Cleared ‘Climategate’ Academics Funded by Taxpayers and the BBC
Middle East
»Kurt Westergaard is NOT Going to Jordan for the Trial
»Mideast Without Christians
»Mohammed Cartoonist Goes on Trial on Blasphemy Charges in Jordan
South Asia
»Taliban Tunnel Breakout Outwits Afghan Jailers
»Bishop Says Europe Must Take Refugees
Culture Wars
»Top Italian Official Blasts Ikea Over Gay Advert


Diana West: Michigan Court Establishes “Blasphemy”-Free, No-Go-Zone for Islam

Writing at The Corner, Nina Shea recaps the latest in the saga of Terry Jones, who has been trying to take a peaceful, non-flammable protest of sharia and jihad to the sidewalk outside the largest mosque in America in Dearborn, Michigan only to be outlawed by the Michigan District Court. Like all other envelop-pushing cases, this latest incident serves as a stress test of the rule of law in our society. And, like most other such envelop-pushing cases, it proves that the rule of law is strong — only the law that is strong is sharia (Islamic) law.

The Michigan District Court’s egregious ruling against Jones is all about protecting Islam from criticism, rather than about protecting criticism from Islam, which is what US jurisprudence, not to mention the American Way, demands. It is sharia that the US court is enforcing.

One particularly hideous aspect of the ruling bars Pastor Jones and his colleague Assistant Pastor Wayne Sapp from visiting the vicinity of this mosque for the next three years. Jones and Sapp are American citizens; the area the court has barred to them is in American territory. With this ruling, the judge has made the court both the creator and also the enforcer of what amounts to a public, criticism-free and protest-free zone for Islam, a place in USA where “blasphemy” against Islam is against the law…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Improvised Explosive Device Discovered on an Overpass in Brownsville

BROWNSVILLE — Police say a passerby on the southbound side of Highway 77 noticed what looked like a grenade near the FM 1732 overpass and alerted authorities around 5 p.m. Sunday.

The improvised explosive device or I-E-D was disarmed by a bomb squad using a robot. No one was hurt. Parts of Highway 77 were closed for several hours.

Police are continuing to investigate.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Elections: EU: BBC Training to Egypt and Tunisia Journalists

Twenty-four egyptian and tunisian journalists will attend a special training programme on the electoral process in the United Kingdom’s Welsh National Assembly elections and scottish parliamentary elections on 5 May, as part of the EU-funded European Neighbourhood Journalism Network (ENJN) project. According to the Enpi website (, a group of 12 tunisian journalists will attend the Welsh Assembly elections (from 2-6 May) as part of training about the role of journalists as key civil society actors in the election process. Elin Wyn, a former Head of election planning for the BBC in Wales, will conduct the five-day workshop with Mark Webster, a former political reporter and spokesperson to the leader of the Liberal Democratic party.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Jahn Determined to Remove Ex-Stasi Workers From Files Authority

Roland Jahn, the new head of the national Stasi files archive, says he will remove all 47 members of his staff who used to work for the feared East German secret service.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Turkish Kebab Restaurants Against Italian Regulations

(ANSAmed) — FLORENCE, APRIL 25 — Owners of Turkish kebab houses in Florence, the capital city of Italy’s Tuscany region, are standing against a new regulation by the Italian government that bans new kebab houses in the ancient city. Turkish owners of the kebab houses in the city told the Anatolia news agency that Florence Municipality’s new regulation banning new fast food shops was rather political. “We draw attention due to rapidly increasing number of kebab restaurants,” said Alphan Sarkin, who has been running a restaurant in the city for eight years. “When I opened the shop, there were only five restaurants here and now the number has increased to 49,” said Sarkin. The Turkish kebab is gaining great popularity among Italians because it is “cheap and filling,” he said. “The new regulation will not affect existing Turkish kebab businesses,” said Murat Capar, owner of another kebab restaurant in the city. Capar said the procedure for operating permission for kebab restaurants were the same as for a pizzeria. “But the implementation is weighted against Turkish restaurants,” he said. According to Capar, the municipality had been working on the regulation for the past three years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Police Hunt Suspects in “Hanging Boy” Case.

The Norwegian boy who was discovered at the site at Haganäset in Charlottenberg in Värmland County in western Sweden, was too scared to talk about his ordeal when he was first saved, reports TT.

Fellow Norwegian Stig Engebretsen who discovered the 11-year-old when he was out looking for his own son on Friday evening, said he was shaking with fear when he was eventually freed. “I think he was so scared that he could not even talk,” said Engebretsen. The boy’s father told Norwegian newspaper VG that he was attacked by more than one person, who grabbed him from behind, thereby making it difficult for him to see anyone and give a full description.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Lobbyists Who Cleared ‘Climategate’ Academics Funded by Taxpayers and the BBC

A shadowy lobby group which pushes the case that global warming is a real threat is being funded by the taxpayer and assisted by the BBC.

The little-known not-for-profit company works behind the scenes at international conferences to further its aims.

One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called “Climategate emails”, producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.

Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.

Set up with the backing of Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, and run by a group of British MPs and peers the organisation, Globe International, started life as an All Party Group based in the House of Commons.

It is now run as an international climate change lobbying group flying its supporters and experts club class to international summits to push its agenda. Last year, it said, it spent around £500,000 flying its supporters to these meetings.

It has also paid out at least £75,000 on travel for prominent UK politicians, including for its former presidents Elliot Morley, the ex-Labour environment minister now facing jail for expenses fraud, and Stephen Byers, the former Labour cabinet minister who was suspended from the Commons after he was filmed describing himself a “cab for hire” when offering to lobby his parliamentary contacts for cash.

Now Globe is planning a mass lobby of the United Nations Rio 2012 summit in Brazil, where world leaders will discuss climate change, by holding a World Summit of Legislators in the city to coincided with the event.

Next week the group’s current President Lord Deben, the former Tory Cabinet Minister John Gummer, is due to launch a major report on climate change policy alongside Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary.

Globe has also recently held behind-closed-doors meetings with William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and other senior Coalition ministers.

Last year two prominent experts linked to Globe were drawn into the controversy over emails leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

Lord Oxburgh, the organisation’s director, was called in to head an internal inquiry into the leaked emails which included one infamous message referring to a “trick” to “hide the decline” in global temperatures.

The peer’s investigation cleared the scientists of malpractice. But critics claimed the report was a whitewash and Lord Oxburgh also failed to declare his involvement with Globe before he began his investigation.

Meanwhile Bob Ward, from the Grantham Institute, which works alongside Globe, praised a second inquiry by former civil servant Muir Russell, which also cleared the climate researchers.

He said it had “lifted the cloud of suspicion” and demonstrated that “the integrity of climate science is intact.”

Globe International’s work is paid for with donations from multi-millionaire backers and through partnerships with other environmental groups.

Globe also confirmed last night that it received direct funding from the Department of Energy and the Department of International Development (DfID). including a grant of £91,240 provided by DfID since the Coalition came to power last year.

More cash from DfID is filtered through the Complus Alliance — a “sustainable development communications alliance” of broadcasters based in Costa Rica which is also supported by the BBC World Service Trust, the Corporation’s independent charity,.

Complus, which was awarded DfID cash last year and in 2006, says it has an “ongoing relationship with Globe” helping it run “shadow negotiation” teams at international summits of world leaders.

A spokeswoman for Complus said: “The BBC is a founding member not a funding member. They can make in-kind contributions, like organising events, supporting logistics, sharing content.”

She added that Complus did not fund Globe but work with them on “convergent objectives”.

Last night a DfID spokesman confirmed the department had given Complus £250,000 in total to provide research, advocacy and communications work on the impact of climate change.

The spokesman said: ‘These contributions were awarded under the previous Government. The current Government has not given them any funding.

‘We only support projects that meet our strict conditions of delivering value for money and can prove their ability to reduce global poverty.’

The BBC trust’s money is drawn from the £15.2 million-a-year it gets from the Foreign Office and DFID and £800,000 from licence payers. The BBC charity failed to respond to questions about its relationship with the project and how much this involvement was costing.

The Zoological Society of London, the world famous charity behind London Zoo, also provides Globe with scientific advice “providing high level input” from its top conservationists and zoologists. Globe said it paid ZSL for its expertise.

Last night Globe’s general secretary Adam Matthews said: “Globe is not a lobbying organisation. It is an international group of legislators. It was set up by the legislators themselves.

“We facilitate them coming together to discuss environmental issues. Our members have multiple views — some quite sceptical on some aspects of the climate change debate.”

“We are funded by the World Bank, the EU, international parliaments and Governments, including the UK Government. The coalition Government contributes to our work through DFID.”

Globe International, registered as a not-for-profit firm under the name The Global Legislators Organisation Ltd, makes minimal discloses about its finances to Companies House.

Last year it declared a £500,000 loss, but still managed to fly a number of key supporters to summits and international conferences.

Barry Gardiner MP, its vice president and former Labour biodiversity minister, attended to at least four international conferences on Globe’s behalf, including a trip to Tokyo, Japan, Seoul and South Korea costing more than £7,000.

Another trip to China cost more than £8,000. Mr Gardiner’s daughter is also a member of Globe’s full time staff.

It also paid nearly £3,000 to fly Gregory Barker, now Coalition climate change minister, to Washington DC.

Peers Lord Hunt, former head of the Met Office, and Lord Jay, the former head of the Diplomatic Service, both declared club class travel to summits paid for by the organisation.

Lord Hunt, father of Tristan Hunt, the historian, television presenter and Labour MP, also lists Mr Matthews, Globe’s secretary general, as a member of his House of Lords staff.

Mr Matthews was once Barry Gardiner’s researcher in the House of Commons. His chief adviser, Gauri Kiik, is listed as being on the House of Lord’s staff of Lord Jay.

Lord Deben declares his work for Globe as a “non-financial interest” to the House of Lords. He is also yet to declare any foreign travel funded by the organisation, although Globe confirmed last night that it had contributed to his travel and accommodation costs in the role.

Lord Deben also runs an environmental consultancy company, Sandcroft International, which declared a turnover of almost £2 million in its last accounts. He is also chairman of Forewind, which has won the rights to build a controversial offshore wind farm in the North Sea off the Yorkshire coast.

Among Globe’s principle backers are a charity set up by the Swedish multi-millionaire Niklas Zennstrom, founder of the internet phone service Skype, and British-born wealth fund manager Jeremy Grantham, whose personal clients include Dick Cheney and John Kerry.

Mr Grantham bankrolls the Grantham Institute at the LSE, which works alongside Globe.

He believes “weather instability” is the world’s biggest “investment problem” and his $107 billion fund pushes alternative assets including a massive portfolio of forestry.

The fund was believed to be preparing to invest in the abandoned Government sell off British forests.

Globe’s staff also includes Dr Sam Fankhauser, Globe’s chief economist, is an “independent adviser” to the Government on climate change. He is a member of the Government’s Committee on Climate Change which advises on policy.

And Terry Townshend, Globe’s director of policy development is married to Libby Townshend, a diplomat, who was on the UK team at the UN Climate Change summit in Copenhagen.

Globe Internationals’ influential supporters include:…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Kurt Westergaard is NOT Going to Jordan for the Trial


“In any case, I have no intention of going even if I am asked to,” … “I do not want to risk becoming familiar with the Jordanian prisons, which would be hell”

Jordanian MPs have demanded that the government sever ties with Denmark, and Amman has condemned the caricature, warning that it could spark further extremism and harm relations between Denmark and Muslim countries.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Mideast Without Christians

Op-ed: Christians must realize Israel’s fate intertwined with fate of non-Muslims in region

This is the saddest Easter in the long epic of Arab Christianity: The cross is near extinction in the lands of it origin. The much-vaunted diversity of the Middle East is going to be reduced to the flat monotony of a single religion, Islam, and to a handful of languages.

In 1919, the Egyptian revolution adopted a green flag with the crescent and the cross. Both Muslims and Christians participated in the nationalist revolution against British colonialism. Now, according to the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, more than 70 Christians a week are asking to leave the country due to Islamist threats.

The numbers are telling. Today there is only one Middle Eastern country where the number of Christians has grown: Israel. As documented in the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the Christian community that numbered 34,000 people in 1949 is now 163,000-strong, and will reach 187,000 in 2020.

In the rest of the Middle East, the drive for Islamic purity is going to banish all traces of pre-Islamic pasts. This has affected not only Christians, but other non-Islamic communities too, such as the Zoroastrians and Baha’is in Iran (the late also found refuge in Israel, in Haifa.)

The silence of the global forums, the flawed conscience of human rights groups, the self-denial of the media and the Vatican’s appeasement is helping facilitate this Islamist campaign. According to a report on religious freedom compiled by the US Department of State, the number of Christians in Turkey declined from two million to 85,000; in Lebanon they have gone from 55% to 35% of the population; in Syria, from half the population they have been reduced to 4%; in Jordan, from 18% to 2%. In Iraq, they will be exterminated.

Should the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem continue in the next two or three decades, there may be no clergy left to conduct religious services in Jesus’ birthplace. In Iran, Christians have become virtually non-existent since 1979, when Khomeini ordered the immediate closure of all Christian schools. In Gaza, the 3,000 who remain are subjected to persecution. In Sudan, Christians in the South are forced into slavery…

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Mohammed Cartoonist Goes on Trial on Blasphemy Charges in Jordan

Amman — Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and 19 other Danish journalists and editors went on trial in Jordan on Monday on charges of blasphemy over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed six years ago.

None of the defendants appeared in the Amman court. The judge, Nathir Shehadah, decided to conduct the trial in absentia after he considered that the publication of arrest warrants and indictments in the local press served as legal notifications, judicial sources said.

The trial was adjourned to May 8, when the tribunal will be scheduled to hear defence witnesses.

The lawsuit was filed by the ‘God’s Prophet Unites us Campaign,’ a coalition of Jordanian academics, lawmakers, unionists, journalists, lawyers and politicians.

Westergaard published 12 satirical pictures of the prophet in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005. Their publication caused outrage in the Arab and Islamic world and led to a boycott of Danish products.

One of the pictures showed Prophet Mohammed carrying a lit bomb instead of a turban on his head.

The cartoons were later published by several European newspapers.

The list of charges, which has already been approved by the Jordanian public prosecutor, includes ‘blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed and humiliation of Islam and Muslims.’ Such offences are punishable under the Jordanian penal code, the campaign’s lawyer, Tareq Hawamdeh, said.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Taliban Tunnel Breakout Outwits Afghan Jailers

Nearly 500 inmates of Kandahar prison disappear down 1,000ft tunnel — just in time for ‘fighting season’

Afghan and Nato forces have launched a huge operation to try to recapture 475 prisoners, nearly all of them Taliban insurgents, who staged an extraordinary mass prison breakout using a tunnel.

Officials said the inmates had escaped through the tunnel, dug from a house to the wing of the prison where political prisoners are detained in Kandahar.

In an email, Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the tunnel was 1,050ft (320m) long and had taken five months to construct, “bypassing enemy check-posts and Kandahar-Kabul main highway leading directly to the political prison”.

He said just three insurgents inside the prison had known about the plot. They helped ferry the prisoners out of the jail in an operation lasting four and a half hours.

He said that by 3.30am on Monday morning, the entire political wing of the prison was emptied of inmates. These had been ferried off to “secure destinations” by a fleet of cars the Taliban had organised.

The message, written in near-perfect English, crowed over the failures of the security forces: “The most astonishing thing throughout the operation, as reported by mujahideen informants, was that all the enemy forces inside the prison, which includes foreign invaders, did not notice the results of the operation even four hours later and hence has not released any statements.

“Mujahideen had also placed a martyrdom-seeking group near the prison, whose need did not arise due to the inaction shown by the enemy.”

Amir Muhammad Jamshad, the head of Kandahar’s prisons, told the Guardian the tunnel was a major undertaking by the insurgents, who were unable to use any heavy machinery because it could have attracted attention to their work.

A man who Taliban spokesmen said was one of the inmates who helped organise the escape from the inside told the Associated Press a group of inmates obtained copies of the keys to the cells ahead of time.

“There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside,” said Mohammad Abdullah, who said he had been in Sarposa prison for two years after being captured in nearby Zhari district with a stockpile of weapons. “Some of our friends helped us by providing copies of the keys. When the time came at night, we managed to open the doors for friends who were in other rooms.”

He said they woke the inmates up four or five at a time to get them out quietly. Abdullah spoke by phone on a number supplied by a Taliban spokesman. His account could not be immediately verified.

There are guard towers at each corner of the prison compound, which is illuminated at night and protected by a ring of concrete barriers topped with razor wire. The entrance can only be reached by passing through multiple checkpoints and gates.

Tooryalai Wesa, the governor of Kandahar, said that security forces at the prison had “failed in their duty”, but strenuous efforts were already under way to recapture the prisoners.

“Some of the escaped prisoners have been recaptured by the security forces during searching operations, and huge operations have launched inside and on outskirts of Kandahar city for the rest of them,” he said.

He also appealed to Kandahar residents to phone in tipoffs about the escaped prisoners to a special hotline set up by authorities.

Despite his insistence that the job of recapturing so many prisoners would be made easier by the detailed biometric records held on all the men, including fingerprints and iris scans, the breakout is a blow to international and Afghan government efforts in the key province.

One member of Kandahar’s provincial council, Hajji Hematullah, said that although some prisoners may still be in the city, many others would have made a direct line for the safety of the Pakistani border.

The freeing of so many hardened insurgents comes just before the summer “fighting season”, and could potentially reverse some of the gains Nato made over the winter in intensified operations aimed at killing and capturing as many insurgents as possible.

It is also the second time huge numbers of prisoners have managed to escape the prison in just three years. In June 2008, the Taliban stormed the prison, using a suicide bomber to break a hole in a prison wall. The operation allowed 870 inmates, including 390 insurgents, to escape.

The breakout was followed by days of intense fighting in the outskirts of the city after the insurgents fled to areas where they were immediately able to take up arms against Nato forces.

The crumbling prison was extensively reformed and improved in an effort to prevent such an outbreak ever happening again.

[Return to headlines]


Bishop Says Europe Must Take Refugees

Germany and Europe should open their doors to refugees fleeing North African unrest and instability rather than barricading the borders, according to the Evangelical Bishop of Central Germany, Ilse Junkermann. Junkermann said in an interview that those fleeing violence in places such as Libya should be granted safety and help. “That we should help civil war refugees should not be put under question,” she said. “That is Christian duty, citizens’ duty in a global society.”

Europe must help — not only in Libya itself but also here in accepting refugees. Referring to the current arguments over what to do with the illegal immigrants who have already landed in Italy, she said, “I find it disturbing how politics is being conducted on the backs of those people concerned.” It is not possible to simply refuse entry, she said. “That is too little in a globalised world where one demands the ability to act as free as possible worldwide in ones own interests.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Top Italian Official Blasts Ikea Over Gay Advert

Share A top Italian official on Saturday called an Ikea advertisement with two gay men holding hands “in bad taste”, invoking the ire of opposition parties and rights groups.

“I find it serious and in bad taste that a Swedish multinational comes to Italy to tell Italians what they should think,” Secretary of State for family policy Carlo Giovanardi said in a television interview.

The Swedish furniture giant’s advertisement shows two men with a shopping bag, holding hands, and the words: “We are open to all families”.

“I think that many clients of Ikea will not find this pleasant,” said Giovanardi.

While Ikea was free to address itself to whom it pleases, the term family as used in the advertisement “is in direct opposition to our constitution which says that family is founded on a marriage”, he added.

Gay rights activist Aurelio Mancuso said Giovanardi’s statements were “dangerous and aggressive and risk fueling the climate of homophobia that drives violence and insults against gays, lesbians and transsexuals.”

Lawmaker and gay activist Franco Grillini pointed out that: “in the rest of Europe, they have adopted laws that recognize all forms of family”, while fellow MP Ignazio Marino mocked Giovanardi for “launching a crusade against an advertisement”.

Italy does not recognize homosexual marriage or civil union, and has no law against homophobia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]